Category Archives: Entertainment

Theme: Adorable Animals

I Found a Kitty!

by Troy Cummings

Arfy is back and his heart is as big as ever in Troy Cummings’ adorable sequel to Can I Be Your Dog?! When Arfy discovers Scamper, a homeless kitten, he reaches out once again via letters to his neighbors to help find Scamper a home (sadly, his person is allergic to cats). With puns and personality, his missives not only entertain, but also help to eventually find Scamper a forever home. Sweet, colorful illustrations, an interesting cast of characters, and a focus on pet adoption make this a purrfect story for dog, cat, and all animal lovers!

Hound Won’t Go

by Lisa Jean Rogers

Illustrated by Meg Ishihara

Sometimes simple is simply wonderful, and that’s the case with this adorable story about a hound who stops and plops in the middle of the road, causing havoc all around him. Short rhyming text propels the story while bright, vibrant illustrations add extra heart and warmth. A fun, funny dog-lover’s delight!

Play Like an Animal!:  Why Critters Splash, Race, Twirl, and Chase

by Maria Gianferrari

Illustrated by Mia Powell

Animals of all stripes and colors love to play just like we do, and for a variety of reasons: to learn new skills and ways of moving, to enhance cooperation and communication with others, to practice defending themselves against predators, and yes, even to have fun! Featuring joyful, playful illustrations of rhinos, monkeys, dolphins, elephants, and other animals, Gianferrari and Powell have created a rollicking look at animals at play. Back matter extends the learning with additional facts about each featured animal, the importance of play to animals in general, and additional reading to learn more on the subject.

Puzzle Review: Eurographics’ Tea Cup Collection

Delicate tea cups and saucers featuring floral designs will put you in the mood for a “spot of tea” with this 1,000-piece puzzle. And a pot or two you might need while working it: this is a challenging puzzle with only a few bright colors and dainty flowers with minute differences to set them apart in the collection!

As you can see from my photo of the worked puzzle, there’s a LOT of white. I would have liked to see a bit more variety and color in the tea cups’ designs, to add interest.

That’s why I’m giving this puzzle: 3 out of 5 puzzle pieces.

 

Spotlight Review: Two Bicycles in Beijing

Two Bicycles in Beijing

by Teresa Robeson

Illustrated by Junyi Wu


Readers will zip through the sights and sounds of Beijing along with Lunzi and Huangche, two colorful bicycles destined to be best friends, in Teresa Robeson’s newest delightful picture book.

Manufactured together, Lunzi and Huangche hope to never part. But when a young girl buys Huangche, Lunzi worries it will never again see its friend in the big city. However, a delivery boy soon chooses Lunzi to help with his errands, and off they go. As Lunzi flies on two wheels through the crowds, it watches carefully for a flash of yellow. But there are many festive yellow sights in Beijing. Just when Lunzi is about to give up hope, one last flash of yellow – along with a new friendship between the girl and boy – ensure Lunzi and Huangche will be able to remain friends no matter where they travel in Beijing.

Robeson’s joyful and optimistic text offers many wonderful opportunities for Wu’s softly colorful artwork to shine. Chinese words stand side by side with English for a nice introduction to a new language (a glossary of Mandarin Chinese terms used in the book follows the story), and back matter offers a bit more information on some of the sights highlighted in the story, including Nanguan and Beihai Parks and Tiananmen Square. This sweet story of friendship set in a bright, bustling city is a perfect addition to any bookshelf.

Puzzle Review: Buffalo Games: Cake Shed

When I work a larger puzzle, I like to have a mix between small details and big focal points in the artwork. This 2,000-piece puzzle offers this balance nicely, for example with a brightly-colored chair right up front and sardined bottles and jars of cake toppings in the background. I also like when puzzle designers offer interesting vignettes; this peak into the creative work area of a “cake artist” fits that bill as well.

The puzzle itself features sturdy pieces with helpful cuts for those hard-t0-place ones – when puzzle manufacturers offer small hints through the cut design in single-color portions of the art without detracting from the challenge, my old eyes are appreciative. All in all, Cake Shed is a fun family-sized puzzle full of great detail and contemporary colors. I recommend it for older teens and up.

I give this puzzle: 5 out of 5 puzzle pieces.

Theme: Boogie Down: Picture Books about Dancing

Let’s Dance!

by Valerie Bolling

Illustrated by Maine Diaz


Musical rhyming couplets will inspire readers to get up and move in this fun, joyful celebration of dance styles from around the world. Exuberant illustrations feature children of diverse backgrounds and abilities, and back matter offers another look at each dance in a colorful ode to different eras and forms.

Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing

by Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by Kristi Valiant


In this delightful collection of poems celebrating dances from across the globe, each poem’s meter and style reflect that dance’s beat. Singer’s poems partner wonderfully with Valiant’s vibrant illustrations to capture each dance’s true heart. Back matter discusses styles, while a CD features the poems set to original music by Jonathan Roberts.

I Got the Rhythm

by Connie Schofield-Morrison

Illustrated by Frank Morrison

A walk in the park turns into a dance extravaganza for a girl who uses her senses and feels the beat in everything around her. With joy and rhythm, she encourages others to join in – snap, clap, tip, tap – as she expresses herself. Energetic illustrations will have readers clapping along!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 Review: Besos de sol, abrazos de luna (Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs)

SPOTLIGHT REVIEW

Theme: Feeling Close to Someone Far Away

Besos de sol, abrazos de luna (Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs)            Bilingual Spanish-English version

by Susan Schaefer Bernardo

Illustrated by Courtenay Fletcher

I’m happy to be taking part in Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020! As part of this event, I was provided a copy of Besos de sol, abrazos de luna (Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs) to review. This sweet, loving picture book was published by Inner Flower Child Books in December of 2019

Author Susan Schaefer Bernardo and illustrator Courtenay Fletcher’s well-loved Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs can now reach even more children and parents in this delightful and beneficial Spanish-English bilingual version. Lyrical text — in both Spanish and English on each page — pairs with bold, colorful design and digital-style illustrations to spread the message of love and comfort to children who are separated from a loved one, whether it be through divorce, death, illness, distance, or another reason. The book’s message is clear: through nature and connecting to the big, beautiful world we live in — be it via the sun or moon, trees or flowers, rain or snow, sand or butterflies —  children can still feel close to their loved one. One spread is a great example:

“I’m leaving signs to show I care, like the wind whispering through your hair. Whenever I miss you, I will find a way to hug and kiss you.”

The gently reassuring tone of this story makes this an ideal bedtime read, plus the bilingual text offers a chance for non-English speakers to share the message with loved ones as well.

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board
Super Platinum: Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,
Platinum: Language LizardPack-N-Go Girls,
Gold: Audrey PressLerner Publishing GroupKidLit TVABDO BOOKS: A Family of Educational PublishersPragmaticMom & Sumo Joe, Candlewick Press,
Silver: Author Charlotte RiggleCapstone PublishingGuba PublishingMelissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,
Bronze: Author Carole P. RomanSnowflake Stories/Jill BarlettiVivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices HeardBarnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTomWisdom Tales PressLee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge PublishingBarefoot Books Talegari Tales

 

Author Sponsor Link Cloud: Jerry CraftA.R. Bey and Adventures in BoogielandEugina Chu & Brandon goes to BeijingKenneth Braswell & Fathers IncorporatedMaritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_MejiaKathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry BlossomSISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. NorrgardJosh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTERMaya/Neel Adventures with Culture Groove,  Lauren RanalliThe Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon ChappellPhe Lang and Me On The PageAfsaneh Moradian and Jamie is JamieValerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena PublishingTUMBLE CREEK PRESSNancy Tupper LingAuthor Gwen JacksonAngeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm TreeAuthor Kimberly Gordon BiddleBEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia WenjenSusan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books)Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the OceanEvelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the WorldShoumi Sen & From The Toddler DiariesSarah Jamila StevensonTonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book SeriesTeresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTukGirlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book ClubFinding My Way Books, Diana Huang & IntrepidsFive Enchanted MermaidsElizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling CastleAnna Olswanger and GreenhornDanielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow JeepneyMariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta DiminutaSara Arnold & The Big Buna BashRoddie Simmons & Race 2 RioDuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical DebutVeronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts: A Crafty ArabAfsaneh MoradianAgatha Rodi BooksAll Done MonkeyBarefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial BookwormsMichelle Goetzl & Books My Kids ReadCrafty Moms ShareColours of UsDiscovering the World Through My Son’s EyesEducators Spin on itShauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylinkGrowing Book by BookHere Wee ReadJoel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}Imagination SoupKid World CitizenKristi’s Book NookThe LogonautsMama SmilesMiss Panda ChineseMulticultural Kid BlogsSerge Smagarinsky {Australia}Shoumi SenJennifer Brunk & Spanish PlaygroundKatie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews
FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day
TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Puzzle Review: Buffalo Games: Art of Play Aimee Stewart Yard Sale™

I’m a big fan of bright puzzles with a lot going on, hidden surprises, and room for many elbows around the table. This 2,000-piece Buffalo Games puzzle featuring artist Aimee Stewart’s delightful depiction of a chock-full yard sale ticks off all of those things and more. My family worked this 38.5 x 26.5 puzzle during a single weekend over the holidays, with four of us claiming our own favorite sections (I chose the bicycles, dresses, yellow table, and blue blankets) to complete.

A bonus poster helped us to see the smaller details, and interesting cut techniques (but not TOO crazy) on the pieces helped to up the fun factor. This puzzle is just one of Aimee Stewart’s wonderfully creative designs in the Art of Play series, and features Buffalo Games’ Perfect Snap™ pieces made in the USA of recycled puzzle board. I recommend it for ages 14 and up for solo puzzling, a bit younger for family puzzling with guidance and help.

I give this puzzle: 5 puzzle pieces out of 5.

 

 

 

THEME: OUT OF THIS WORLD

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars

Written by Richard Ho

Illustrated by Katherine Roy


Simply told and gorgeously illustrated, this atmospheric look at the rover Curiosity on Mars encourages readers to open their minds to both current realities and future possibilities of space exploration. Ho’s friendly, succinct style and illustrator Katherine Roy’s creative perspective and use of red tones provide the feel of roaming the planet alongside Curiosity. Backmatter offers depth (The Anatomy of Curiosity, information about Curiosity’s history on Mars and more on the red planet itself), and breadth (Curiosity’s Friends, a look at other rovers that came before) for the “curious” minds who will be enthralled with the small but mighty rover.

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet

Written by Curtis Manley

Illustrated by Jessica Lanan

Curtis Manley’s love for and curiosity about space shine through in this expanded picture book which asks the question: Is there another planet that, like Earth, is not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, but “Just Right” for life? In an accessible way, Manley moves quickly through the history of this question into modern day, while following a young girl and her family as they explore a museum exhibit about these exoplanets. Lanan’s gentle and varied illustrations help bring concepts to life for young readers while encouraging “What if” and “Perhaps” daydreaming about this timely question.

Pluto Gets The Call

Written by Adam Rex

Illustrated by Laurie Keller

Chock full of heart, humor, and helpful information, Rex’s expanded picture book uses every bit of “space” to tell Pluto’s story of demotion to a Dwarf Planet and its hilarious ensuing search for answers. When Pluto, previously known as our ninth planet, gets a call from scientists on Earth with the bad news, he sets out to talk to the other planets – each with its own delightful personality based in facts and a bit of fancy – about why. Keller’s vivid and lively mixed-media style adds to the hilarity. Who knew our solar system could be so fun, funny, and fascinating?

31 Days of Horror: Happy Death Day 2U (PG-13; 2019; 100 min)

If you haven’t yet seen 2017’s Happy Death Day, stop whatever you are doing and watch it now. Funny horror-lite at its best (you can see my review here: https://tanyakonerman.wordpress.com/2017/10/15/31-days-of-horror-happy-death-day-pg-13-2017-96-min/). Once you’ve done that, be sure to tune in to this second installment, which builds on the original in clever, genre-bending ways while keeping the hilarity and guessing game (who’s the killer?) intact.

The movie opens with a familiar face (Carter’s roommate, Ryan) experiencing a familiar occurrence (reliving his own murder day after day), but not for long.  Soon we are back to Tree’s loop, and her finally figuring out what is causing it: Carter! As Tree, Carter, Ryan, and others from HDD hilariously band together to stop the looping once and for all, they must also fight off another Baby-face killer, a crazed college administrator, mixed emotions, and other factors to finally find peace once and for all.

  • Top Scare: Baby-face killer
  • Heartbeats: 1 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 1 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 13 and up

31 Days of Horror: Us (R; 2019; 116 min)

Following Jordan Peele’s amazing Get Out, I was looking forward to his next go at horror. Us is one of those movies that you can peel like an onion, discovering layer upon layer of meaning while heading toward the core. I do not have room here to delve into these middle and bottom layers, so if you’re looking for that kind of analysis, I suggest checking out critics’ reviews linked on IMDB. I do, however, have room for a quick peek at the top layer, a story which is both slow (the plot feels a bit thin for me) and fast (wait, what just happened? what does that mean? step back a minute), and which features some humor and nice twists along the way.

When the Wilson family of four heads to the beach for a vacation, staying up the road from their friends’ house, a day in the sand ends early after young Jason wanders off. When he reappears, his mother Adelaide becomes even more fixated on a childhood memory of when she once wandered off at the beach, and pushes for the family to cut the vacation short. She’s too slow, though, because that night, a doppelgänger family breaks in, wanting more than just a nice visit. As the truth dawns on the Wilsons and they call on their friends for help, they quickly learn they must do whatever is necessary to overcome each of their darker sides.

  • Top Scare: Lupita Nyong’o
  • Heartbeats: 2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up

 

31 Days of Horror: The Visit (PG-13; 2015; 94 min.)

How this one has slipped by me so long I am not sure. I am a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan, and this gem should have been on the top of my list. I can only guess it got lost in all the other 2015 horror movies and I ran out of time. But I’m here today to encourage you to add it to the top of your queue.

Two siblings, Becca and Tyler, decide to visit their grandparents for the first time while their single mom (who is estranged from her parents but won’t tell her kids why) goes on a week-long cruise with her boyfriend. Becca uses the opportunity to create a documentary about her grandparents in an effort to get to know them better, and in an attempt at reconciling them with her mom. Shot entirely with two hand-held cameras, the story unfolds at a nice, slow pace, allowing tension to build as we discover Nana and Pop Pop are a bit odd. A bit unwelcoming, maybe? Perhaps, even, creepy? As the days pass, and their grandparents’ behavior becomes more unusual and scary, Becca and Tyler try to uncover the dark secret which seems to be at the heart of this visit gone terribly wrong.

  • Top Scare: Nana
  • Heartbeats: 3 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for 14 and up

31 Days of Horror: The Invitation (NR; 2015; 100 min.)

A bit horror, a bit, mystery, a bit drama, this movie could be a bit ho-hum in the suspense department. But it’s not, and those who don’t like the usual horror fare might dip their toe in with this slow-burn.

Two years ago, Will and Eden’s son died tragically, the couple divorced, and now Will has received an invitation to a dinner party at Eden’s house (where they used to live as a family). The story unfolds slowly over the course of the evening, as Will, his new girlfriend, and several old chums meet Eden’s new guy David and the couple’s friends, and are also introduced to Eden’s new positive outlook on life. Will begins to feel some very weird vibes from the situation and events, soon suspecting there is more than a simple dinner party on the agenda. But his hold on reality is often tenuous at best due to his still raw grief over losing his son and returning to the house where he once lived. Is Will just being paranoid? Why is he so suspicious? As the clock ticks by, Will must decide: was this really just an invitation to a dinner party, or should they all have RSVP’d NO?

  • Top Scare: a friend of David’s
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 16 and up

 

31 Days of Horror: Midsommar (R; 2019; 147 min.)

Very rarely do I happen upon a horror film that leaves me both baffled and disturbed (I’m looking at you, The Human Centipede), especially one lasting nearly 3 hours. But, alas, Midsommar is one such movie, and my head is still reeling from its effects. My recommendation is to take a hard pass on this drawn-out head-shaker and have a nice picnic this weekend instead.

When college student Christian and his buddies are invited to a new friend’s remote Swedish village (one with a fondness for shrooms, no less) in order to experience its rarely seen midsummer festival, Christian’s longtime girlfriend Dani decides to come along as well. Having suffered a tragedy recently and sensing a breakup is imminent, Dani is happy to find the villagers are welcoming, the setting bucolic, and the customs quaint, though unusual. As the nine-day festival kicks off, the group begins to discover not everything is as it seems with the people, their motivations, and their happy smiles. In fact, each day of the festival features traditions more odd, creepy, gory, and freakish than the last. As the sometimes disturbing scenes unfold, the viewer is left to hope the friends will wake from their dazed participation and make their escape before it is too late.

  • Top Scare: Villagers
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up, due to gore, nudity/sex, and disturbing scenes